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The Lights You Make

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You know that feeling where you’re too tired to wake up but your mind is already not only awake, but running at full speed? All while you lay there, eyes closed, praying for just a few more moments of sleep.
That’s where Jet is right now.
They’re only sort of awake. The soft blankets under them and the heat of the day are contrasting in their semi-conscious mind. And it is hot, boiling almost as they lay here. Jet’s fairly certain they’re on top of the blankets but again, they’re only half awake so who’s to be sure?
But they’re also comfortable. The blankets are soft, familiar almost even though they’ve never had a bed to call their own before. Maybe it’s simply because Jet is so used to their sleeping bag rather than an actual mattress.
Even with the uncomfortable heat, with how exhausted they feel Jet knows that they should still be asleep.
Something else has woken them but they’re not sure what exactly.
With a lack of anything better to do, Jet does their best to recall the previous night. They remember pieces of the storm, staying pressed against Kobra literally the entire time, the aftereffects of their nightmare, and then-very vaguely- they remember falling asleep in here. Kobra was with them, of that they’re nearly positive, but he’s not here now. Not that they can tell.
As pathetic as it is, Jet feels the familiar pang of loneliness at that realization. He’d promised he’d stay and here they are, waking up alone.
But it’s not like it’s Kobra’s job to stay with them when they sleep all day and it’s bound to be sometime around lunch with this heat the way that it is. Maybe he got bored watching them drool in their sleep.
Maybe he regretted sleeping in the bed with them entirely…
Jet forces themself to take a shaky breath, in through their nose and out through their mouth as they try to stay calm.
They’re overreacting anyway. Kobra isn’t here but it’s not like he has to spend every waking moment with them or anything. Sure, they’d asked him to stay and he’d said yes, but that doesn’t mean he has to stay all day.
There’s a billion reasons why he might have left and it’ll do Jet no good in agonizing over it. It’s a simple solution really, get up and find Kobra, then ask him.
And they do want to find him. Already they miss him, like a phantom ache in their chest. They are beginning to see past those layers of indifference that he broadcasts out. Behind that bored expression Kobra wears all the time, his mind racing and he’s nowhere close to as stone cold as first glances might insist.
He worries, a little too much, constantly, but hides it so well until it literally boils over.
Last night, that anxiety had nearly boiled over but he’d fought through it. For them.
Talking to him afterwards last night proved that Jet had scared him pretty badly.
His heartbeat still echoes in their ears, anxious yes, but strong.

Jet truly can’t describe the feeling that bursts in their chest as they think of those things. Of how- perfect, kind, amazing, sweet, caring…- well Kobra fits into their life. How much he helps them, how much he means to them.
And they miss him. He can’t have been gone long but Jet already misses him horribly. They want to see that little glint in his eyes as he silently judges something Ghoul says. That little smirk when he and Party are bickering just for the hell of it. And that smile, that soft twitch of his lips when he catches their eyes on him.
Holy shit-
They love him.
That realization gives them the motivation to actually make an effort to get up.
Prying their eyes open, Jet allows themself just a moment longer to rest. They’re still exhausted and they already dread the amount of effort it’s going to take to go find Kobra. It’ll be worth it but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be fun. Besides, something deep in them is screaming that there’s something off. They have a bad feeling but aren’t really sure what it’s about.
They savor the peaceful quiet of the room around them for a few more seconds before taking another deep breath and pushing themself up onto their elbows.
It’s more difficult than they’d expected but soon they are standing by the bed, ears ringing. The world sorta tilts afterwards in protest and Jet has to hold onto the mattress for support until the feeling slowly passes.
How bad was the thing with their heart last night?
Like they actually feel weak, their legs unsteady under them and their head light even as the tiling fades to a manageable degree.

They find their pants carefully folded and laying on top of the desk chair. Their boots sit on the floor beside it. As quickly as they can, Jet slips into the pants and pulls on their boots. It gives them a head rush, moving around so much, and they have to pause and sit in the chair while this one passes.

The moment they’re able, Jet crosses the room and stands by the window. They can’t help but notice that Kobra’s boots are still on the floor by the bed. He left in a hurry but they doubt he’d be outside without them.
The window is dirty, covered in muddy sand that’s been caked into every crevice by the storm last night. There’s a lot of dust kicked up outside, rolling in waves along the slight breeze.
Something still feels off.
Jet’s not sure if it’s Kobra exactly they’re worried about or just like - things in general.

Watching the window has given them no actual leeway in figuring out what feels wrong. They should just go find the others, take their mind off of things.
Maybe the others are downstairs, making breakfast- or maybe even more coffee. Even if not, that seems like a good place to try and find Kobra, is probably their best bet. He’s bound to be with either his brother or Ghoul.
But that’s easier said than done.
Attempting to make their way to the door, Jet has to stop and rest by the bed before finishing the tip. They haven't felt this weak since they’d first gotten shot and being in this state again, after already having gone through it only a little over a week ago, is just as annoying as it sounds.
Their stomach doesn't hurt- thank the Witch- but it’s like every little movement costs twice the normal amount of effort. It’s frustrating and they curse themself for freaking out so much last night.
Party had warned Jet to try and take it easy until they figured out what was wrong with their heart. So naturally, they’d gone and had a major panic attack after being exhausted by the sun. This is their own fault.
But, even so, Jet isn’t frustrated enough to push themself too far. They know that they need a break. Which is why they’re leaning against the side of the bed and willing their knees to not give out under them.
Jet can’t help the little voice in the back of their mind telling them that Kobra’s gone, that the reason the building is so quiet and there’s so much dust outside, even after the storm must have been gone for hours, is because the others took off in the night. Leaving Jet alone.
But wait-
Surly, she’d still be here right?
Jet tries to remember where she was last but everything revolving around last night is blurry and hazy in their mind. Just as they’re debating on the chances of her being upstairs with them, a loud explosion rocks the building.
With their legs as shaky as they are, Jet nearly falls from the shock. Their heart is beating loudly in their ears again, something they’re growing to hate.
Maybe Ghoul’s just testing his bombs or something…
Then another explosion comes, somewhat smaller but still just as terrifying.
It might be another test. But deep inside of them, they know that that’s not the case. There’s something wrong, they can feel it.
Did Kobra mention that he hates Ghoul’s plan?
Sure, it’s simple, doable, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe.
His plan is far from it, actually. Ghoul was never one for subtlety but this is crossing a line even for him.
But it’s the best one they’ve got, the only one they’ve got, and there’s nothing Kobra can do now that it’s started.
He trusts Ghoul. The kid is quite literally his best friend. But that’s exactly why he’s got a bad feeling about this; Ghoul always ends up being the one hurt. He’s always the one to take the brunt of the disaster.
Sure, he’s gone on a pretty good streak recently with not getting hurt- unless you count the not sleeping thing and the recklessness- but Kobra knows that that can change in an instant. The Witch doesn’t care about winning streaks. She guides your soul whether you like it or not. When it’s your time, it’s your time. Very few people can cheat her, can cheat death, and those that do normally end up doing something important, being someone important.
People like Jet.
Like Kobra.
Hell, Ghoul too.
But, both he and Jet have starred their own death right in the face. And here Kobra is, in yet another clap with a Better Living Exterminator.
Maybe fate does exist, maybe he survived just so that this fight could happen.
Or, maybe there’s something greater that he has a part in. Kobra may never know for sure but he does know that he’s here now. That’s what matters.
He watches as Ghoul makes it to Guano at last, the car stopping in record time on the cracked pavement as he spins it around to face back where he’d come from.
To face the Exterminator.
The patrol cars stop too, still in the sand but plenty close enough to shoot him if they wanted to.

Ghoul sits on the other end, back tires almost touching the sand on that side of the road. A few feet of faded, cracked asphalt is all that’s between him and the Dracs.
Party and Kobra are in their stolen car, parked a little off to the right side of the patrol and thankfully unnoticed.
The stalling engines fill Kobra’s ears, the smell of gasoline and hot pavement bombard his senses. He’s not exactly panicking but he’s getting close. He can still hear the music coming from Ghoul’s radio, loud and somehow familiar.
“Ready?” Party questions confidently from the driver’s seat.
When he chances a look to Kobra, his face falls.
“Hey,” he tries instead, quiet, sincere. “He’s got this.”
“There’s too many.”
Kobra’s voice is hoarse, a whisper. He’s surprised his brother can hear him at all.
But Party just blows a sharp breath, as if in doing so he can relieve all of the tension that’s sitting in the air around them.
“Ghoul knows what he’s doin’. This is his thing.”
“Right. Yeah.”
Kobra tries to make the words set in his mind, to use them as an actual comfort rather than just letting them slide off.
Ghoul knows what he’s doing.
He watches as Korse steps out of his car, signaling the Dracs to do the same a moment later. They round on the Trans-AM, coming towards Ghoul in a semi-circle until they’re close enough and then they move to surround him at all sides.
The music shuts off and the silence that follows is drowning. Kobra forces himself to stay calm. If he freaks out it’ll only make their situation worse. They can’t afford to fuck this up.
The Dracs are only a few feet from Ghoul, entirely too close for Kobra’s liking. The gun that Ghoul has is almost out of charge and there’s no way he could take on this many if Korse causes them to deviate from the plan.

“What can you possibly be planning?” Korse’s voice booms, loud enough for Kobra to hear. “Are you giving up?”
“What’d ya fuckin’ think?”
Ghoul spits the words at him, Kobra able to see the smirk and look of disgust on his face even though his own view is blocked by the Dracs. He can see the backs of their masks, where the little latch is that clips them on. It sends shivers down him, the thought of what those masks do. Of what they represent.
They all have guns, all pointed at Ghoul.
Kobra’s own blaster is heavy in his hand and he knows that if they open fire Ghoul is done for.
But then, something happens that Kobra doesn’t see. A Drac falls backwards, hitting the sand with an audible thud.
“Now. What exactly did that accomplish?” Korse taunts as he looks back to Ghoul.
And then Ghoul is hitting the gas, running over the Dracs standing in front of the car. The Exterminator jumps aside at the last minute as Ghoul jerks the wheel. He spins the car around again, the back tires sliding sideways over the sand and kicking up a wall of dust.
The Trans-AM disappears in the cloud of dust and Kobra can only watch as Korse stands and aims his gun into it.
“You think hiding is going to help you?”
The engine roars again and Ghoul plows over even more Dracs on his way back through, Korse only barely managing to sidestep again. The Exterminator does shoot at the car though, succeeding in hitting the side view mirror.
Ghoul’s on the pavement again and Kobra can see his shit eating grin.
Has he already done it?
“Eh. It’s just fun,” Ghoul shouts, chuckling a bit at the end.
Then, he looks down, presumably at his lap, and the smile falls from his face. The car roars again and he hits the gas at the same time he throws something in the back seat.
As the Trans-AM goes through the remaining Dracs, -maybe 10 left standing- Ghoul dives out of the car.
That’s their cue.
Party hits the gas hard enough to make Kobra’s head connect painfully with the headrest. As they go onto the pavement and cut sideways to get to Ghoul, the Trans-AM reaches the Dracs.
It seems he timed it perfectly because the moment it’s in the middle of their formation, the car explodes.
Fire and metal skyrocket, the shock wave strong enough for Kobra to feel it even though they’re a good thousand feet away. His brother drives quickly, isn't phased by the explosion and the literal fire falling from the sky.
Kobra jumps out of the car the moment they make it to where Ghoul jumped. Another explosion, probably the fuel igniting, seems to rock the very sand beneath his feet. Cursing, Kobra forces himself to not watch the scene to his right. Ghoul’s more important.
He looks like he did yesterday morning after he nearly got struck by lightning. Pale and covered in black.
Shit, was that really only yesterday?
Right now though, Ghoul’s laying curled up on the pavement. There’s road burn on just about every inch of skin that Kobra can see, red and bleeding sluggishly. His clothes are torn and more blood appears beneath the ripped fabric. And he is pale, really freaking pale.
“Ghoul?” Kobra tries, placing a hand on his shoulder and shaking him.
It’s one of the few places not burned to shit and Kobra nearly passes out when Ghoul groans. He uncurls himself slowly as Party runs over, coming to a skidding halt beside them.
“Ghoul!” his brother yells, already trying to assess the damage.
As he pulls his hair up into a hair tie, Party gently pokes and moves random spots along Ghoul’s body, probably searching for broken bones or even worse injuries.
“Ghoul, c’mon asshole, wake the fuck up,” Party whispers rather loudly, his voice damn near breaking.
He lifts Ghoul’s arm, inspecting the torn skin there and bending his elbow.
“Stop all that fuckin’ yelllin’ ”
His voice is gravelly, slurred but Ghoul does look up at them a moment later.
“I’m going to fucking kill you,” Party says lovingly, as he continues to check Ghoul for any broken bones.
Nothing seems to be broken. He got really fucking lucky it seems.
Ghoul shakily pulls his hair behind his ear, his hand bleeding pretty badly and really only succeeding in rubbing a smear of red on the skin around his ear.
It makes Kobra wince. The road burns have got to hurt like a motherfucker, he knows this from experience.
But Ghoul’s face is just set in a scowl, not betraying any pain or anything other than a mild frustration.
“Didn’t even get ‘t see the ‘splosion.”
He’s still slurring his words barely flowing together. Kobra worries about a concussion around the time Party begins to check his vision for signs of a head injury.
“I’m going to help him kill you,” Kobra adds to Party’s earlier statement.
Because…. Seriously!?
Ghoul just nearly fucking died and he’s pissed he didn’t get to see the car explode?
Taking a glance over, and letting Party do his thing to make sure that Ghoul’s okay to move, Kobra watches the flames eat away at the Trans-AM.
There’s not much left at this point, just a burning metal skeleton. Bits of the car are scattered about, along with other things.
Kobra doesn’t think on it a moment longer than he has to but there are Dracs laying in the sand as well. Some are on fire, others are just… pieces. Some of their cars are on fire too but not all.
Korse catches his attention.
Kobra’s gun is raised and he’s standing before he’s released another breath. If the Exterminator wants to get Ghoul, he’s gonna have to to through him first.
Ghoul’s done enough today.
“I must say, that was a rather interesting turn of events don’t you think? Is that little Ghoul sprawled out on the pavement? I do hope he survived that jump.”
Korse is taunting them, speaking loud enough for him to hear over the low roar of the burning car. Then he steps closer and Kobra trains his blaster on his forehead.
“Oh my. Are you going to shoot me?”
Tightening his grip on his blaster, Kobra tries to pull the trigger.
But he can’t.
Something in him is preventing him from moving his finger enough to set the laser off. It’s incredibly frustrating but… he knows why.
This is a person.
Not a mindless Drac, a real person who may be insane, but he has feelings too. He can feel the pain of being shot. Even though Korse deserves to suffer, Kobra can’t bring himself to pull the trigger.
“I thought so.”
“ ‘s that baldy?” Ghoul slurs behind him.
Kobra hears a shuffle, likely Party keeping Ghoul from jumping up and trying to fist fight the Exterminator. Which is something that Ghoul would try to do.
“I’m gonna fuckin’ kill ‘im.”
“Ghoul. Stay the fuck down,” Party bites back. “If you broke somethin-”
“I ain’t broke nothin’. Lemme up.”
And then Ghoul stumbles his way to stand beside Kobra. His brother hovers anxiously to the side of Ghoul and Kobra understands why. He’s swaying, bleeding from multiple road burns, and probably has hit his head on the way down. But Ghoul just aims Party’s gun right at Korse.
“Ah. A shame then. You four really are like vermin; I just can’t seem to get rid of you,” Korse says in disgust before turning on his heel and calmly walking back to his car.
Ghoul sways dangerously and Party pulls his arm over his left shoulder. But Kobra can’t move.
He watches Korse just drive away, back towards the City.
This feels like a loss.
“Help me get ‘im to the car,” Party cuts Kobra’s thoughts off.
He shakes it off, every feeling other than the need to get Ghoul back to safety. That’s a top priority, getting Ghoul cleaned up and out of danger. Then, Kobra is going to check on Jet. He hates the thought of them waking up alone but at the time, this was more important.

With the two of them, getting Ghoul’s tiny ass back to the car isn’t difficult. The sun is still blistering though and Kobra feels like he’s already lost half his damn body weight out here today.
They ease Ghoul into the car, trying to avoid hitting the patches of raw skin that cover his arms, legs, and face. He groans under his breath but sits up straight in the seat.
“Party?” Ghoul asks quietly, making his brother pause.
Party’s half way in the backseat still, hunched over an exhausted looking Ghoul, while Kobra rests his head in his hands in the passenger seat.
“Why’d you change?” Ghoul finishes.
So, yeah, Party had traded the skirt for a new pair of faded, ripped jeans, but Kobra had barely even noticed it. Why would Ghoul, now of all times, be concerned about that?
“Wasn’t practical. I don’t want sand in my fuckin’ undies ya idiot,” Party says with a smirk.
“You should never wear pants. I’ve told you that before.”
“Okay, that’s where I draw the line,” Kobra speaks up, shaking his head to try and not picture his brother without pants on. “ just ‘cause ya nearly died doesn’t mean you can go and put those sorta images in my head.”
“Fuck you. I look fuckin’ hot as hell with or without pants on.”
Kobra cracks a smile but thankfully the conversation drifts away and he’s able to enjoy the silence as they drive back.
The sound of a car engine makes itself known right as Jet enters the diner. There’s no one downstairs, not that they can tell. They still don’t know where Grace is either, which adds a whole new layer to the anxiety running rampant in their mind right now.
Then, the car outside gets closer and Jet hears it cut out.
Had the others gone on a supply run or something?
There’s no way Jet slept more than a few hours, right?
A car door slams, making them jump.
Footsteps in the sand getting closer. They don’t dare peek through the windows, instead they’re stuck frozen in place at the bottom of the stairs. If this isn’t Kobra and the others Jet is done for.
They have no weapon and they’re currently breathing like they’ve ran for fucking miles.
The smell of smoke and something burning fills Jet’s lungs, not strong enough to make them cough but definitely noticeable.
What the hell is going on?
The front door swings open and Jet nearly falls over in relief. Kobra stumbles in, head down and gun in hand. But something else catches Jet’s eyes.
There’s some on his jacket sleeves, a bit on his face, and quite a lot covering his hands.
Instantly, Jet’s rushing over to him. He nearly loses his balance as they all but tackle him. Pulling Kobra into firm hug, they pull away just as he recovers from his shock and wraps his arms around them. They’re thankful for that.
Jet’s knees have gone to pure mush and it’s surprising they’re still standing.

But they pull away and Jet holds Kobra’s arms in their hands, inspecting every inch of the fabric of his jacket and hands for the wounds they just know are there.
They find nothing but tanned, unmarked skin.
“It’s not mine,” he states simply.
“Ghoul. He’s okay, Party’s gettin’ him outta the car no-”
Jet cuts him off by colliding their lips together. They don’t think, don’t even allow themself a moment of second guessing.
But he freezes against them, going stock still long enough for Jet to worry they’ve read this all wrong.
Then, slowly, Kobra begins kissing them back. He pulls them against him as their knees finally give out, holding them close. His lips are soft, if a bit chapped, and they somehow seem to fit perfectly against theirs. Jet can hardly think over the feel of Kobra’s lips against their own. It's mind numbing in the best possible way. And Kobra sighs a little into the kiss, letting Jet melt against him. They pull apart but only just enough to rest their foreheads together. Somehow this is better than they ever had thought. His breaths mingle with theirs as Jet keeps their eyes closed just a moment longer. Kobra's safe, he's right here.